Lack of competition keeps small business afloat

May 18, 2009

This is part of a series of personal accounts about small business and the recession. The writers are contributors to Associated Content.

by April Hendrickson

I own and operate Pro Dyno High Performance, a 27-year-old automotive performance shop in Phoenix that I took over six years ago.

We provide automotive luxuries — custom exhaust systems, specialty engines, superchargers, etc. — mostly for GM vehicles.

The recession has made it difficult to offer these services because our customers are tightly holding on to their money. Because of the lack of work, Pro Dyno has gone from five full-time employees to two during this downturn.

The only bright spot is that similar area businesses — our competitors — have closed their doors. Other shops have left Arizona. Capitalizing on someone’s downfall is not enjoyable, but this is to our advantage. We have been able to maintain and gain from our competitors’ misfortune.

This wasn’t the case a year ago, when new shops opened all over the valley. There was so much work. If customers called for service, and we were not able to provide for them quickly, they would call other shops and look for the best deal. This has stopped completely.

The recession has been a double-edged sword. The work has slowed, but even if we do have customers demanding new products, we often can’t deliver because our vendors are behind schedule. The recession forced our suppliers to stop producing products because of cost and lack of employees.

If my customers are ready with cash in hand, I have to explain why something that was once available in two days is now taking two weeks. For a customer who is ready to spend, that is not good news. It allows them time to talk themselves out of the purchase. They think of other ways to spend their money.

There is some good news, though. People are getting tax refunds and are looking again to add our performance products to their vehicles.

When times get bad, the small business that stays open will succeed. I am thankful to all our customers. They alone are the reason for my success.

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